Jiang Chen found the young man's overconfident attitude of 'you can't afford to offend me, nuh uh!' rather funny. Tian Lin had remarkable martial talent and was spoiled by Emperor Pillzenith a great deal, so he hadn't washed himself of his natural pampered aura.
People like him carried at least a little bit of the dandyism common to their status with them. Whenever they encountered trouble, they first resorted to using their fathers' names as the bogeyman. This was a sign of immaturity.
The unexplained sense of superiority and self-confidence was actually somewhat childish. After all, young master Tian Lin was currently a prisoner.
Why hasn't he realized his situation yet? Jiang Chen burst out in laughter. He cut a slice of the game in his hand and bit into it. The meat's savor filled his mouth.
"It looks like you still haven't realized what you're doing, kid!" spat the young master hatefully. "You won't be satisfied until you're staring at your doom in the face!"
Jiang Chen's laughter became louder. As he chuckled, he tapped his knife against the blue-green rock beside the fire-spit. The rhythm he drummed up was light and joyful.
"I don't understand, Sir Tian Lin. How much do you trust your father exactly? He must give you a whole lot of courage if you can mouth off like this while being someone else's prisoner."
The young lord stood up as he spoke, placing the knife in his hand to the young master's neck. His blade was still slick with grease from the meat.
"Even if your father is Emperor Pillzenith, a single cut should leave you dead on the spot, no? What does your father's importance have to do with your immediate fate? Say, would he cough up blood if he saw this happen in front of his eyes?"
The chilly steel of the knife put Tian Lin's head into a buzz. Cold sweat beaded upon his brow, bringing new clarity to his mind.
"Who… who are you, really? Do you have a grudge against Pillfire City?" Tian Lin was no hot-blooded fool, nor was he some kind of steadfast warrior. He was just a cultivator who'd attained emperor realm at a young age through both talent and a prominent birthright.
Because of this, he was puffed up in front of most people. This plus a previous lack of obstacles in his life made him inexperienced with adversity.
The instant before a knife had been at his neck, he'd subconsciously felt that nothing bad could ever possibly happen to him. It was grave misjudgment on his part.
"You don't need to know who I am. I'm asking you just a single question: do you want to live or die?" Jiang Chen's knife rubbed against the young master's skin. If he applied just a little more force, he could cut the young man's throat on the spot.
Young master Tian Lin proved Emperor Pillzenith's son, after all. He finally knew terror, but oddly didn't beg for mercy.
"You wouldn't dare kill me!" More sweat dripped down his forehead.
"I... wouldn't dare?" Jiang Chen found each new sentence out of his prisoner's mouth even more entertaining. "Do you think I couldn't kill you as easily as a dog right now?"
"You…" the young master was tremendously incensed upon hearing this - that was, before he realized once more that he was only a prisoner. If he lost control and said something too nasty, his captor could cleanly slice his airpipe in half in a fit of rage.
Jiang Chen tapped the flat of his knife upon young master Tian Lin's face a few times. "In the eyes of you Pillfire people, you're a real bigshot as the son of Emperor Pillfire," he smirked mockingly. "In my eyes, though, you're nothing more than a lamb to the slaughter. Just because I'm keeping you alive for now doesn't mean that's going to be true forever!"
He withdrew his knife in a swift motion, smiling to himself. Young master Tian Lin's mute acupoint was sealed off once more; he had no interest in wasting more words on the youth.
He hadn't wanted to target young master Tian Lin in the first place. If not for Emperor Pillzenith's shamelessness in targeting Qingxuan, Jiang Chen wouldn't have resorted to such equally underhanded tactics.
Stopping for a moment, he made a rudimentary disguise for the young master. The change in appearance altered Tian Lin's presence completely. He wanted to avoid overt attention for the next while.
After doing all that, Jiang Chen wasted no time in departing. His detour into Pillfire City for young master Tian Lin had been quite easy, but it had still cost him an entire day of time.
The six great emperors were fast approaching and every minute from now on was very precious. Thankfully, the Moon God Sect's headquarters wasn't far from here.
Jiang Chen pushed himself to maximum speed, arriving in Moon God Sect territory within the day. It was his third time here, and his mood and mindset was different once more.
He didn't announce his arrival to Third Master Jing this time, preferring instead to barge in directly. His trip was supposed to be discreet; he didn't want to reveal his presence.
The senior sectmaster was a bit surprised upon receiving Jiang Chen's message glyph. Why had the young lord returned so soon? However, she couldn't afford to snub him. She received him in secretly immediately.
"You haven't been gone long, young lord Jiang Chen. Do you have a purpose for revisiting us so soon?" The sect head was mildly uneasy.
"I came to deliver some news, senior sectmaster, a warning about Emperor Pillzenith," Jiang Chen cut straight to the chase. "He is moving against the Moon God Sect as we speak."
"What?" The senior sectmaster's expression froze. She shook her head instinctively. "Impossible! No matter how ambitious Emperor Pillzenith is, he wouldn't go against the rest of the world by publicly invading the Moon God Sect! We're a first rank sect. If he does so, the Upper Eight Regions will be thrown into chaos! He's the master of Pillfire City. He can't not know about that!"
"That's all history, senior sectmaster." Jiang Chen sighed softly. "Things are different now. Pillzenith is at his wit's end, and he's gone mad. If you do not believe my message, I must take Qingxuan away ahead of them."
"Young lord Jiang Chen," the senior sectmaster frowned, "Are you exaggerating things so that you can take Qingxuan away?"
"What, do you think I'm that kind of person?" Jiang Chen retorted with a sneer.
"Ah…" the senior sectmaster sighed softly. "Honestly, I'm still not sure what kind of person you are, young lord Jiang Chen."
"I'm not interested in wallowing in your indecision, senior sectmaster," Jiang Chen stood up suddenly with a cupped fist salute. "Pillzenith's men will arrive either today or tomorrow. They aren't coming solely for Qingxuan. They want to intimidate the Moon God Sect into supporting Pillfire City openly as well. If you don't agree, there may be a vicious slaughter."
The senior sectmaster drew a sharp breath. Jiang Chen's seriousness was infectious.
She sighed bitterly. "Relations between the Moon God Sect and Veluriyam Capital have finally angered Pillfire City, hmm?"
"You make it sound like Veluriyam Capital is to blame," snickered Jiang Chen. He'd lost interest in the conversation. Hardship was a trial by fire for character.
If the senior sectmaster was going to continue being a wallflower or linger or intensify her support for Pillfire City, Jiang Chen wasn't going to waste time talking further. He would take Xu Qingxuan away outright, whether the Moon God Sect let him or not.
The senior sectmaster knew that the fundamental problem between the Moon God Sect and Pillfire City wasn't the former's relations with Veluriyam Capital, but rather its lack of servile ingratiation toward the nearby northern superpower. The Empyrean River Palace's posture was far more ideal.
The Moon God Sect possessed ancient heritage and incalculable knowledge. It was less than willing to relegate itself as a subordinate faction to Pillfire. That was why its members resisted despite the burdens and tribulations in recent years due to Pillfire's chokehold. The faction hadn't sold itself out to become another's vassal.
Once that happened, the Moon God Sect would no longer be a pure sect faction. The heritage of its ancestors would be defiled.
"Excuse me, young lord Jiang Chen," the senior sectmaster sighed softly. "I don't mean to blame Veluriyam at all. There's nothing clandestine about our comings and goings. Pillfire has always wanted us to be one of its henchmen, but we've maintained our own heritage instead. That's the root of our conflict. Emperor Pillzenith's conceited ambition is to blame!"
That was much more like it.
Jiang Chen nodded. "Let's not attribute cause right now, senior sectmaster. We should instead face our crisis head on. Pillfire's sent six great emperors, including experts from both the Empyrean River Palace and the Sublime Chord Temple. You should shore up your defenses now, otherwise…"
"Just six great emperors against us" The senior sectmaster huffed. "They underestimate our heritage!" There was a tinge of pride in her voice. "I'm truly thankful for your message, young lord Jiang Chen. There's no need for concern. Six great emperors aren't enough to even shake the foundations of our sect."
The Moon God Sect had a rich and extensive history. Its stores were well-stocked with countless failsafes. The senior sectmaster's confidence was living proof of this.
"If the Moon God Sect can protect itself, that would be best. Still, my only purpose for coming here is to take Qingxuan away. As her brother, I can't risk any harm coming to her."
"Impossible!" The senior sectmaster shook her head. "Even if I were to agree, the senior sectmaster won't. Are you planning to change the terms of our prior agreement, young lord Jiang Chen?"
"I'm not changing any terms whatsoever. I merely want to ensure my sister's safety. I can take a step back, senior sectmaster. Even if Qingxuan isn't allowed to come with me, you should still send her out on an excursion. That way, you'll have more than enough excuse to stuff Pillfire's mouth when they come. How do you intend to answer them if Qingxuan stays?" Jiang Chen's suggestion was actually quite good.
If Xu Qingxuan wasn't actually at the sect, Pillfire's men would have no effect regardless of their ferocity.
"Never mind," the senior sectmaster sighed wistfully. "I'll go talk to Number Two. She loves Qingxuan a great deal. If what you say is true, I'm sure she'll agree."
Just as she said, the second sectmaster cursed loudly as soon as she heard the news. When she was done releasing her anger, she attributed partial blame to Jiang Chen. Deep down, she felt that he was the culprit behind it all.